January 20 – Happy Birthday William Barkley

barkley2Here’s a short excerpt from my story about this long-time Amsterdam educator. His entire story appears in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order a copy, click here.

Call me old fashioned but I preferred it when Amsterdam, New York public schools were named after their locations instead of after local educators. Gone are the days when most natives of this city could explain which grade school they attended and where it was located with the same answer. For example, I attended Guy Park Avenue Elementary and East Main Street Elementary Schools while growing up in the Rug City but my kids attended Clara Bacon Elementary and Raphael J. McNulty Elementary during their own childhoods here. Not only do you usually have to explain where schools named Bacon and McNulty are, the next question is usually who were Bacon and McNulty?

William H. Barkley Elementary is located on Amsterdam’s South Side, which in political terms is known as the city’s Fifth Ward. The school was built almost directly south and up a steep hill from the site of the old Fifth Ward Elementary School. William H. Barkley was made principal of the old Fifth Ward School in 1899 and remained in that position for almost 39 years until he retired in 1937. I do believe that made him the longest tenured same-school building principal in the history of Amsterdam Schools…

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